First off, I never went to business school, no one taught me how to run a business and half of my adulthood, I was in the United States Navy working on the engine of a ship as a mechanic and became an Operations Specialist where I navigated the ship when we were out to sea. I finished off my eight year career in the Navy as a training officer for the Naval Reservists on an Air Force base in Las Vegas. None of this taught me business, but being in the military did teach me discipline and how to be a leader. Most of my trial and error in business came from my humble beginning in the nightlife industry back in 2005 when I threw my first nightclub event at Empire Ballroom for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The success of that event catapulted me to my success today. Here is what I’ve learned through my rigorous journey in the nightlife and entertainment business.
1. People are very competitive.
Everyone wants to be the best. People will do whatever they can to try and be just that, including trying to sabotage you/your company, slander you/your company (anonymously) or sometimes not anonymously if they’re brave (usually not). The key is to stay away from the drama, worry about yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish. Competition is great and pushes you to be better, but simply keep it as just that. Stay on top of what you’re competitors are doing, but keep from going out of your path of making your life successful by throwing hate into someone else’s path. It’s bad energy and that energy leads to destruction in your life. Stay positive and create a competitive advantage.
2. It is important to create a schedule for yourself.
In the world of the nightlife business, your schedule can be all over the place. Owning a business is very intense if you don’t create a schedule for yourself and can cause severe anxiety and/or A.D.D. You work all day, all night, and your sleep schedule is all over the place. This is the case unless you have a schedule and stick to it. Everyone thinks that going out, partying and drinking is the nature of all business in nightlife. Not true. Sure, drinking is a usual option, but nightlife has taught me will-power and has made me realize that even though alcohol (bottle service) is somewhat of what we do, hangovers every day isn’t the key to any of our success and screws up our entire schedule the next day and sometimes the next 2-3 days (depending how fast you recover). Those that have office jobs in nightlife and are not put in a situation of having alcohol shoved in their face every night tend to have an easier time to scheduling their days. They have more of a 9-5 job so-to-speak. There are many angles to this and it really depends on your job. Regardless, create a schedule, maintain it and don’t allow the darkness of what nightlife entails suck you in.
3. something That is hot today may not be hot tomorrow.
The nature of nightlife as I said before is very competitive. Whether you own a business in the nightlife industry or work at a nightclub, tomorrow may come another business and another nightclub that can hit the city you live in so hard that it will take you down. It’s happened many times before and it will happen again. Why does this hold true for nightlife? Nightlife is very ego-driven and competitive in nature because there’s a lot of money to be made. With that being said, people will do whatever they can to stay hot and will do irrational things to stay relevant. Stay humble and never get comfortable.
4. Nightlife is a giant shark tank and only the strong survive.
We’ve all heard of the show Shark Tank by now. People walk in, pitch an idea to five successful entrepreneurs and try and get them to invest in their business. The nightlife business is kind of the same, but you’re not pitching anything. You’re performing a job that hundreds if not thousands of other people would love to have- these are shark infested waters. Guys want the girls you’re with, girls want the guys other girls are with, people are partying all the time, one goes home with the other that happens to have five others wanting to go home with them. It’s a vicious cycle and if you’re not strong minded, the industry will suck you in, chew you up, and spit you out.
5. Drugs are bad.
I would love to paint a picture that nightlife doesn’t have a lot of drugs, but unfortunately, the term nightlife entails “party.” What do people do when they party? They drink alcohol and do drugs. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s up to you to refrain from doing them and staying balanced. Drugs can be addicting and ruin everything you ever worked for let alone create a bad name for yourself which in turn affects your business in a negative way. Not many people reading this that work in nightlife want to hear this, but it’s important to not turn a blind eye on the reality of what so many people get caught up in that ruins everything. Mixing business with drugs isn’t the best idea because regardless if you’re in nightlife or any other business, the outcome from using drugs on a regular basis is never a positive one. I’ve seen many people suffer in business because of their addiction to drugs and I’ve also seen people kick their drug habit and find success in life and business- only at that point did they realize how much drugs were holding them back.
6. Networking is key.
If you don’t like to network or simply don’t know how, you will learn very quickly in business. Networking with other nightlife personnel is key if you do it effectively. Nightlife is a place of the “what can you do for me” mentality. With that being said, network with the right people and create synergy with others. This all leads to money and success. I will tell you right now that you cannot do this alone. There are some jobs in nightlife that don’t require any networking, but it’s really hard not to as nightlife is about being social, and even though you might have a daytime job in an office somewhere, you know people and work with others that like to go out. Take advantage of going out and meeting new people. You never know when that person you gave a business card to will call you someday for a job or want to send you business. “Network till you no longer have to introduce yourself.”
7. Do what you love and party ’till you don’t want to party anymore.
Now, I say “party ’till you don’t want to party anymore” because the nature of nightlife is a party. Partying too much throws your schedule off and in turn throws you off in life. It’s just like, “stay single ’till you no longer want to be single anymore” because when you’re not single all the time, you want to be free and be single. It’s very hard to be in a relationship if you haven’t gotten rid of the “single bug.” This applies to partying. Get it out of your system, because if you don’t, it will affect you down the road.
8. Manage money wisely.
When working in the nightlife, everything is accessible to you. Bottles in the club are not cheap (gratuity isn’t cheap either if you get comped bottles), strippers will leave you broke, an escort doesn’t care how much money you make, she will wipe your bank account dry, going out to dinner on a regular basis and paying for food during business meetings are just some of the things people working in nightlife pay for. Due to the simple fact that ego and one’s image is very important in the industry, you might see people driving nicer cars than they can afford and/or have nicer homes due to the simple fact that the perception of success attracts other successful people. You’ve heard of that motto “fake it ’till you make it.” Live within your means or “act your wage.” Nightlife is a very fast paced industry that will leave you waking up the next morning asking yourself how the hell did you just spend $1k last night. Set a budget for things you plan on doing and if you’re making a solid amount of money and it’s consistent, obtain a financial adviser.
9. Don’t ever forget customer service.
The problem I see within the nightlife industry is that customer service has been lost; at the very least, it’s rare. There’s so much money being thrown around in a nightclub and people are led to believe that it will be okay that the bill is $5k because they can just throw it on their credit card and worry about it later. VIP hosts have this attitude that if you want a table, you have to pay the prices or you don’t get seated and if you don’t want to pay it, too bad. They usually don’t work with you on the pricing. Unfortunately, the take it or leave it attitude is strong within the nightlife industry and believe it or not it’s not going anywhere any time soon. In business, customer service means everything in my opinion. People want accessibility and to be treated like a VIP (Very Important Person). Somewhere within the walls of the nightlife industry, customer service has been lost by many but they’re not the ones to blame- it’s the management teams that refuse to provide customer service training. I personally have been in the nightlife industry almost ten years and have worked in just about every position possible moving up in the ranks and not once have I ever received customer service training. Many people are given these positions in nightlife and given a little responsibility and power; mix that up with a lot of ego and no training and you now have an asshole. One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the nightlife entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he or she can offer personalized attention.
10. Become an expert.
Become an expert in your field. Whether you’re a nightlife marketing manager or graphic designer for nightclubs, the more you work on yourself and become more knowledgeable at your job, the more value you create for yourself. Have you ever wondered why your friend that has the same job title is making more money than you at another company? It’s probably because they’ve not only established themselves as an expert, but they give knowledge to help others and that shows they’re an expert at what they do. They’re valuable in their field. The more you display yourself as the expert, the more people will want to seek you to use your services or have you take care of them and it also creates more referral opportunities. Use social media to discuss topics that you’re knowledgeable about in your field. Don’t insult or cut people down, uplift individuals in your field and provide knowledge to help others. People want to be affiliated with humble leaders that seem to know a lot about their job.
About the author: Joe Vargas has been an expert in the nightlife & entertainment industry for over 9 years and continues to provide you with real reviews, opinions and news about the industry. He’s known for “telling it like it is.” Joe Vargas’s book is now available on Amazon.com. Purchase “Common Sense Made Common: 21 Common Sense Tips for Relationships Vol. 1” here.